While we spend our time at CarAdvice reviewing cars for a living, there are plenty of other owners out there who spend as much, if not more, time in their vehicles as we do. Plenty of them are CarAdvice readers or listeners to the podcast and radio shows too – truck drivers, couriers, hire car chauffeurs, tradesmen and, of course, sales reps.
We’ve spoken to sales reps who cover 50,000km in a year easily – they spend a hell of a lot of time on the road in the course of their work. One thing is for sure too: the more time you spend in a car, the more you learn about its niggles and foibles, and the things you like about it too. That’s why they say you should always take a long road trip when you first buy a car – old or new. It’s the quickest way to get familiar with it.
With that in mind, we gave what might just be the perfect sales rep’s car to our anonymous rep to find out whether the new Holden Commodore cuts the mustard for this fairly specific task. There are still plenty of Australian-built Commodores in hire car lots too – so when reps fly interstate and pick up a hire car, it’s often a Commodore.
Our rep has had three Toyota Camrys and one Mazda 6 over more than a decade on the road. She’s also owned a VXII SS Commodore as her personal car, so she is perfectly placed to make any assessment.
So, does it look like a Commodore?
Well, you guys keep writing that the next-generation Commodore would have looked very much like this anyway, even if it was built in Australia. It definitely looks different to the last Australian Commodore, but that’s what happens when you redesign cars from scratch I guess.
This is certainly not an unattractive car. I like the look of it from outside, and it looks like a stylish large four-door car to me.
The most important thing, for anyone spending as much time in the car as you, is the seating position within the cabin. Let’s start with that.
The seating position is really good and I found it really easy to get right too. It was comfortable as well, even when I was doing a long drive.
I had the seat up as high as it would allow, because I’m not tall, and something that always bothered me in the Camry company cars I’ve had is the lumbar adjustment. In the Commodore it was excellent.
There is really good [rear three-quarter] visibility too, even with the sloping rear windscreen. We obviously spend a lot of time reverse-parking and backing into spots in shopping centre carparks, so that’s pretty important. I liked the forward visibility too, and the pillars didn’t obstruct that either.
So, how was manoeuvring it around tight areas in general?
The visibility helps, and I thought it was effortless to park with a good turning circle too. The front sensors are obviously really handy, as is the rear-view camera.
Something else to note is the front of the car, which doesn’t scrape over those parking blocks in shopping centres. I had a Mazda 6 that used to hit them a lot, and while it’s only plastic, the sound is awful.
You do a lot of highway miles and coarse-chip surfaces too, what about general noise and insulation?
The cabin is actually really quiet, even on the highway. I didn’t notice much tyre or wind noise right up to 110km/h; something my Mazda used to have, which can get annoying when you’re driving out into the country. That constant buzz gets really annoying after a few hours on country roads.
What about the infotainment, and the operating system in general?
Reps usually end up with base-model cars that have no satellite navigation, so I’ve always had to have an external unit in my company cars. I really like the fact that this car has Apple CarPlay integration.
We have enough data on our work phones that it doesn’t matter if we use the mapping all the time, and it also means your phone is always charged too. I never once had an issue with the phone connection either – calls were always loud and clear, and no-one on the other end of the line reported any connection problems either.
The easiest thing for me – when you know how to use your phone – is that you don’t have to learn a new system in the car. However, the general controls on the infotainment system were really easy to understand anyway. I listen to podcasts a lot now on the road, especially out in the country, so CarPlay made that a lot easier too.
The individual temperature controls would be handy too. We’re often going to meetings with more than one person in the car, so if you can set your own temperature, that’s a good thing I think.
You use the boot a lot during the course of a day, so what’s the storage like?
It’s enormous, plenty of space, and I like the hatchback design. Accessing my bags and cases in the boot was easy, even if you’re short like me. However, the boot lid is really heavy – or I found it to be heavy anyway.
It can be hard to open and close, when you’re juggling bags or it’s raining for example, and I’m often trying to close it with one hand and a heavy case in the other.
What about storage in the rest of the cabin? You reps have a tendency to carry all manner of stuff in the car…
People who aren’t reps accuse reps of looking like they are living in their car, and it can be a bit like that.
The centre console isn’t big enough for me, and the glovebox is also a bit too small, so the storage area for smaller things is a bit limited. I don’t think that’s a major issue, and you might end up just storing more things in an enclosed case or box in the boot to get around that. Still, some things you need quick access to, so you have no choice but to store them in the car.
How was the fuel consumption compared to the Camrys and Mazdas you’ve had?
I only go by the number on the screen, but it was a bit thirsty in town in traffic. Not compared to the V8 Commodore I owned personally by any means, but compared to my Toyota and Mazda work cars.
It does use a bit more fuel around town, but the counter argument to that is how excellent it is on the open road and the freeway.
If you had the option of this as a company car, would you choose it?
I would. The negatives are only minor really, and when you have a company car, you don’t pay for the fuel either, so those things aren’t huge problems for a rep in my position.
It’s so comfortable, and things like the infotainment make such a difference when you spend so much time in the car each week. I’d love to have one as a company car.
2018 Holden Commodore RS
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